Pino Fire burns more than 200 acres

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The area’s first large wildland fire this season — the Pino Fire, spanning the Socorro/Valencia county line — took five days and 110 personnel to get under control.

The 207 acre fire started Friday at 3:40 p.m. at No. 1 Pino Road, west of the Rio Grande just north of the Socorro/Valencia County line and Highway 346.

Clara Garcia — for El Defensor Chieftain: It only took one burning ember from a small trash fire Friday to spark the out-of-control wildland fire that burned 207 acres of salt cedar, grass and brush along the Rio Grande in northern Socorro County. Socorro District State Forester Doug Boykin advises against any kind of burning in dry, windy conditions.

Doug Boykin, Socorro District Forester of New Mexico State Forestry, said a resident on Pino Road had burned some stuff a couple of days earlier.

“(The resident) went back just to be sure it was out, mixing it around. A spark flew out and ignited a nearby stand of salt cedar,” he said. “It was just bad luck on his part.”

Patricinio Pino has been cited for improper handling of fire – a petty misdemeanor. His arraignment is scheduled at 10 a.m. April 9 at Belen Magistrate Court.

The fire was limited Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District-owned land and private property.

Twelve Type 6 engines, three water tenders and three dozers were working to put out the fire, as well as assistance from Abeytas Fire Department, Veguita Fire Department, N.M. State Forestry, the local BLM office, the local Fish and Wildlife Service, Sevilleta and Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuges, and resources from Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Chief of the Abeytas Fire Department Kelly Voris said, “This is the fourth largest fire we’ve have in the last 10 years.”

As of press time Wednesday, the fire is 100 percent contained, according to Boykin.

“For the next few days, local Fish and Wildlife, local BLM and our Forestry office will be patrolling the fire for the next three days looking for hot spots, in case the wind comes up and blows embers across the lines,” Boykin said. “The fire’s been contained but you’ve still got dry conditions and windy events coming through.”

He said the fire will likely be patrolled throughout the rest of the week.

On Tuesday, management of the operation transitioned from an Albuquerque Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team to the Type 4 Incident Commander Jack Dickey. Dickey said three engine crews have remained on the scene.

Boykin said the U.S. Forest Service has responsibility for fire suppression on forest service land and the Bureau of Land Management has responsibility on BLM land.

“In New Mexico, State Forestry has responsibility for all other non-federal, non-municipal land,” he said.

No structures were lost, but there were several homes on the west side of the fire; however, Boykin said they were “not in any immediate threat.”

Valencia County fire crews had to respond to two additional, smaller fires on Sunday, in the Los Chavez area.

“Until we get rain it’s going to be like this,” Boykin said. “Unless everybody’s careful we’ll continue to have fires.”

 

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